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Things to do in Greenwich

London Calling picks the best markets, cafés, and pubs to visit in Greenwich, including Black Vanilla and Meet Bernard.

Home of Greenwich Meantime and steeped in rich history, Greenwich was one step away from becoming a tourist trap during The Olympics. However, the borough has retained its rustic charm through its architecture, museums and array of charming pubs.

In the summer of 2012, Greenwich formed the stunning backdrop to the Equestrian competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The images of the university buildings within The Old Naval College formed some of the most memorable footage from the hugely successful tournament and opened the eyes of the world to what The South East of London had to offer. However, the move to host the games in Greenwich was met with a lot of opposition due to worries about the gentrification of the area.  As predicted, the chains rolled into town with Nandos, Frankie and Benny’s and Byron burgers all rocking up to the bank of The Thames but Greenwich resisted a major overhaul and whilst there has been a 100% rise in tourism since the games, the borough still remains a little haven amongst the modification of London.

Greenwich has a lot to offer and it’s hard to know where to start. It’s a borough that suits all ages and is slowly becoming trendier due to the prominence of the University as well as having South East’s answer to Dalston (Deptford) and Goldsmiths on its doorstep. The park, Observatory, Cutty Sark and Naval College are the obvious choices that everyone knows about.  The unrivalled panoramic view from The Observatory of London is arguably the borough’s biggest selling point, yet there is plenty to do amongst the hustle and bustle of the town centre below as well. At the bottom of Greenwich Park is Greenwich Market, which amongst the handcrafted soaps, candles and head massage parlours, you will find some of the best street food that London has to offer. The lamb and halloumi wraps at Victus & Bibo are the stand out options, however the queue can go around the stall twice over due to the popularity of them. One for the veggies is the homemade Palestinian falafel wraps which are freshly made in front of you as well as the Ethiopian food stall which offers a delightful range of vegan food, curries and a diversity of flavours that the average Londoner has probably never sampled before.

Take a step out of the market and there’s a host of shops and cafés to sample. Black Vanilla offers up delicious gelato, coffee and hot chocolate, it’s a bit pricey but it’s some of the best you will find this side of the river. Meet Bernard is the trendiest shop going and would slip happily into East London fashion scene with its array of streetwear brands. The Vintage Market next to The Picturehouse also contains some absolute gems at a low cost price, with a fine selection of records, art and general bits and bobs to boot.

In the evening, Greenwich changes into a ‘casual drink’ haven. The Cutty Sark Pub sits on the bank of The Thames with a magnificent view of Canary Wharf and the o2 on a summers evening. The pub is much quieter than its nearest rival The Trafalgar Tavern which can be overflowing due to its close proximity to the town centre and has a rustic interior with a great local vibe to it. For the beer lovers, you’ve got the Old Brewery, which is a lovely little bar with a micro brewery in the back serving the now infamous Greenwich Meantime Brewery. The bar lies within the stunning scenery of The Naval College and is an incredible place for a mid afternoon drink. There’s a wealth of pubs for visitors to explore, with some such as The Pelton Arms being the epitome of the traditional London boozer and a great place to find some of the best local bands about.  If the plan is to go on late into the early hours of the morning then Greenwich is 10 minutes on the bus to New Cross and a whole host of bars and clubs – including the infamous ‘The Venue’ - that will keep the party animals entertained.

This hasn’t even covered everything Greenwich offers. It’s easy to fill a day with a huge variety of things to do in Greenwich whether that be shopping, eating, drinking, museums or the cinema. Greenwich is 100% a place worth visiting if there’s a blank day on the calendar and leaves a lasting impression on everyone who visits with its character and scenery. What are you waiting for!?!

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